The Lakers moved to 2-1 in the preseason after their narrow victory over the feisty Sacramento Kings, 98-92. The barely escaped with the win after allowing the Kings to make a furious comeback, cutting a 18 point 4th quarter deficit down to just 3 with 1:30 to play. Phil Jackson was unhappy that the bench gave up such a big lead, and was clearly not pleased that he had to bring in the big guns to seal the win. Even after Thomas Kelati was re-inserted (ok, inserted for the first time) to the lineup at the 5 minute mark to seal the win, the Lakers continued to struggle and nearly gave the game away ... screw it, I can't do it. I can't even pretend like this game mattered. I tried to write it up like it was the real thing, but in the end, if the players don't care about the result, and the coaches don't care about the result, then we shouldn't care about the result. And nobody did care.
The truth about this game? If all the parties involved could have had their way, this game would have been stopped at the end of the 3rd quarter, just because they wouldn't have wanted any more guys playing when it was clearly one of those pre-destined nights where injuries are going to happen. Each side had some casualties of unnecessary basketball, though the Kings had more trouble. At one point, I counted 4 Kings who had sustained injury, although two of them came back. Unfortunately for Laker fans, Lamar Odom also walked off the court with what is being called a lower leg contusion after he was basically kicked in the shin. He's being listed as day-to-day. It's not a serious injury, but this was not a serious game, so why even try to risk it.
Here are some game related thoughts
-Bynum continues to impress. While Andres Biedrins, Spencer Hawes, and Jason Thompson will never be confused with the All Defensive team, Bynum has led (or shared) the team in scoring in all three postseason games, and he's done it at a high level of efficiency. He's miles ahead of where he was at this same time last year (through three games in 08: 10 pts, 7 rebounds, through three games in 09: 22 and 6) . The rebound numbers need to climb a bit, but that's clearly All-Star quality work from the pivot. Two things really stood out about Bynum's play tonight. First, the "throw the ball within a 5 foot radius for an automatic assist on a Bynum alley-oop dunk" play is now firmly re-entrenched in the play book. This means that Bynum is in a good rhythm, so he's back to catching all kinds of passes, and it also means he feels 100% because he is getting great explosion off the floor. Also, my oh my can the man shoot some free throws. Having spent a good chunk of my basketball life rooting for Shaq and Kwame Brown in the post, having a big man who can knock free throws down at a very respectable clip seems like Christmas. 10-12 from the line for Bynum, in case you were wondering.
-Sasha also continues to play very well. Sasha gets less credit than Bynum because his improvement is all mental, and sanity and inner peace can leave just as quickly as they can come. But what's impressed me about Sasha is that he's taking the same kind of quick shots he took last year, but he looks loads better doing it. It's as if he's slowed down considerably, while still doing the exact same thing he's been doing. There were a couple of hand in the face quick release jump shots from Sasha that he drained as if it was nothing. Granted, it was nothing because these games don't count. But Sasha has given us a couple of vintage Machine performances so far this preseason, and I'd be lying if I weren't moderately excited about the prospect of welcoming Sasha back as a major contributer.
-Shannon Brown and Jodan Farmar didn't really do themselves any favors tonight. Neither one played poorly, but neither one stood out either.
-I don't know if it was because they were in Vegas, or because he just wanted to give the fans a show, but Kobe was definitely playing the game in a relaxed, let's just have fun sort of way. He was getting Harlem Globetrotter fancy with some of his passes, including an alley oop attempt that he tried to bounce over a Kings player. He also seemed to be actively looking for attempts to show off his new post moves, and while the shots themselves weren't really falling for Kobe, he was certainly getting himself open with that Dream Shake.
-AMMO continued to struggle from the field. He seems to be taking over the role Sasha played for years. Lights out in practice, no lights at all in the game. Maybe if he plays in a game that starts earlier, he'll be able to shoot better.
That's all I've got because these games don't deserve much more. Point out what you liked or didn't like from the game, and discuss how the team looks so far.